Flaneuring Fun in Maple Creek SK!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season. Thanks for all the support in 2013 and looking forward to some interesting dialogue in 2014.

Thought I'd share with you some vintage Christmas decorations we found in downtown Maple Creek SK. outside their thrift store.  

If you are driving past Maple Creek on the Trans Canada Highway this Holiday Season (or anytime for that matter), Maple Creek is definitely worth getting off the beaten highway.  

Happy Travelling Everyone Everyday!

Found these fun lawn ornaments lined up on the wall outside the Maple Creek thrift store.  We had to stop and check it out.

Don't you just want to take these guys home with you?  Love the shape of the shadows.  

The classic Santa Claus!  

Sorry, can't stop now!  

Looking at the photos taken while flaneuring Maple Creek, thought some of you might like to see more  fun finds. 

We found this totem piece with the little buckaroo very fun!

Great welcoming entrance to the historic Jasper Colonial Hotel bar...

Howard's  Bakery was chosen as best bakery in Saskatchewan in 2013...loved the apple fritters and the maple glazed cinnamon buns.  

BC Cafe is the classic prairie restaurant - Chinese Western menu.  Definitely worth a try - grilled cheese and soup recommended. 

Yes they love their football?  

The new prairie sentinel! Brutalist architecture at its best? worst? 

For flaneurs there are lots of flashbacks to the past in Maple Creek!

Happy and safe holidays everyone!


If you liked this blog, click on these blogs:  

Ten Commandments of a Flaneur

Flaneuring Uptown Plaza  

Tale of Two Donuts!


Freakn Fun Funky Quirky (FFQ) Bike Racks

By Richard White, December 8, 2013 (revised May 3, 2014)

Saskatoon's everyday tourists, Leila and Charles Olfert. recently sent me six photos of FFQ (fun, funky, quirky) bike racks in Nashville that inspired this blog.  I am hoping other readers will send me more images of FFQ bike racks so I can create a fun gallery.

A little research uncovered that Nashville’s bike rack program is not focused on downtown (like most programs), but in the residential neighbourhoods. I was also shocked to learn the budget is $300,000 for 30 racks. That’s, on average $10,000 to design, construct and install the racks – seems a bit pricy to me.

I learned funding for Nashville artists’ bike racks comes from the "Percent for the Arts" program, an policy that says 1 percent of all net proceeds of general obligation bonds issued for construction projects must be spent on public art. That made we wonder if this is art or decoration? 


The vision for these bike racks is to “be an iconic program for Nashville.” I am not sure I would visit Nashville just to see 30 bike racks, but if I was going, they would be a fun thing to checkout.  The racks being dispersed around the city is a great idea on one level, but it limits the ability for a tourist to see them all.  However, a map of where all the bike racks are, with the best cycle route to see them and a bike rental program would make for a fun a fun Bike Trail.  This raises the question - what does iconic mean?

Do we use the word to loosely today? 

This quirky corn stalk bike rack on a quiet residential street are a good example of "urban surprise."  Credit: L. Olfert 

Now this is fun...note the air pump posts, I missed that at first glance. Credit: L. Olfert

Who would of thought of a sliced tomato as a bike rack.  Where exactly do you lock your bike up? Form vs Function? Credit: L. Olfert

A city is a city…

 A quick check in with Leila who informed me... 

The bike racks are indeed located all around the city -  a map and bike trail would have been really handy.  In fact, it would have been handy if the local people knew about the racks and where they were!  Probably because of their obscurity and uniqueness, Charles and I made it a mission to find all them!

Some of them were in pretty obscure places but it allowed us to explore parts of the city we would not have ordinarily gone to.  In some places, we had to go around the block several times before we figured out where the rack was!  It was a real treasure hunt.  We enjoyed each and every one of the bike racks.  

Some of them had us wondering just how we would lock our bike up to them though!  

 We have not seen anything like this in our travels and thought it was great!  A city is a city and has all the 'city things,' so when we find something peculiar to a city, we latch on to it and run with it.  Seeing the bike racks should definitely be on your must-see list. They are pretty cool!

Future Dividends?

As I continued to do my research I found out program favours younger artists, which is an interesting policy.  The easiest way to create an iconic art program would be hire a famous artist or architect to design them and get immediate recognition.

The idea of giving young artists an opportunity to have their work on permanent public display and to experience the public artwork design process provides an invaluable lesson that will pay dividends in the future. 

And, you might just find that you have a real gem if one of the artists becomes famous, and you would have one of his/her’s early works.  

You have to smile when you see this rack.This looks to me like something  This looks to me like something Claes Oldenburg might have done in the '60s as part of the "pop art" movement. Credit: L. Olfert

This one seems pretty tacky to me...very contrived. Credit: L. Olfert

Portlandia has FFQ bike racks too…

A little more digging and I found that Portland also has an FFQ Bike Program.  The Portland Mercury’s Blogtown did a fun piece on The 10 Craziest Bike Racks in Portland. 

Art / Decoration / Tacky?

When I look at the photos of these bike racks I smile and then I wonder. Are these more decoration than art? They are clever and fun, but I don’t see a personal statement in any of these racks.  To me, they are a quick, “look-see” experience, not something that makes me ponder.

Is this art or decoration or just tacky? Does it matter? Can’t help but wonder if $300,000 could buy one or two nice piece of more thought-provoking public art in higher traffic areas. but that's just me.

This is very appropriate for Nashville which I am told is home to about 20,000 aspiring singers and songwriters. Credit: L. Olfert 

Found this fun bike rake in Downtown Boise's Linen District this fall. I think it would fit well with Nashville's bike rack program. 

This is just one of 10 FFQ bike racks in Portlandia.  Love the title Cupcake.  Credit: Travel Portland 

How sweet is this? A covered bike rack at the Shaganappi Point LRT Station on Calgary's new West LRT line.Credit: David Peyto 

This set of dentures that also works as bike rack is located in Calgary's Beltline district outside a dentist's office.  Credit: David Peyto

Found these fun bike racks in front of a grocery store in downtown Salt Lake City. 

Love this custom bike rack in front of Bozeman's downtown library. 

Send us photos of your your favourite bike racks and we will add them to this blog.

If you like this blog, you might like:

FFQing in Tri-cities 

FFQing Udderly Art Pasture

Downtown Fun: Spokane 

Window Licking in Chicago

The Famous 5 at Olympic Plaza

By Richard White, September 19, 2013

Last week I had some time to kill before a morning coffee meeting so decided to flaneur a bit and ended up at Olympic Plaza and the Famous Five sculpture.  The morning sun was just rising about the buildings to the east and casting a wonderful spotlight on the ladies. 

I love the way the sculptures invite pedestrians both locals and tourists to stop and interact with them.  There is a chair to sit on if you wish, or you can just go up to them and have a chat.  Getting up close you can see how artist Barbara Paterson has created realistic portraits that capture a sense of the personality of each of the in figures.

I quickly grabbed my phone aka camera and started shooting. 

Once home I thought it would be fun to share the artwork and history with my readers. I had some superficial knowledge about the role of the five ladies in lobby for women’s rights early in the 20th century but I should know more. I also knew that the sculpture had been commissioned by the Famous 5 Foundation and was spearheaded by Calgarian Francis Wright.  I also knew that there is an identical installation in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. 

I hit the jackpot on my first click on Famous 5 Foundation website. Rather then retyping the details click here and you can find out the history of the Famous 5.  Some more search told me that there is also different Famous Five sculpture at the Manitoba Legislature by artist Helen Granger Young. 

What captured my interest most on the Famous Five site the quotes selected to represent each of the five ladies.  



This is the Famous 5 sculpture by Edmonton sculptor Barbara Paterson in Calgary's Olympic Plaza.  Paterson captured the five women at the moment they reunited over a cup of tea to celebrate their victory. 

Nellie McClung 1873 – 1951

“Canada is destined to be one of the great nations of the world and Canadian women must be ready for citizenship.”

Nellie McClung is holding up the newspaper with the announcement that in 1929 that they had won the "Persons" case in 1929. 

Louise McKinney 1868 – 1931

“What, after all, is the purpose of a woman’s life? The purpose of a woman’s life is just the same as the purpose of a man’s life: that she may make the best possible contribution to the generation in which she is living.”

Louise McKinney sitting looking at McClung holding up the newspaper hands folded. The artist has captured a sense of pleasure, pride and/or satisfaction in her face. 

Emily Murphy 1868 – 1933

“ I believe that never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country.” 

Emily Murphy is standing by a chair gesturing to pedestrians to come and sit and think about how the world has changed?  

Henrietta Muir Edwards 1849 – 1931

“If women had the vote there would be no need to come twice asking for better legislation for women and children, no need to come again and again for the appointment of women inspectors where women and children are employed; we would not ask in vain for the raising of the wage or consent.” 

Henrietta Muir Edward sits next to McKinney holding up her cup of tea as if she is toasting the victory.  People love to interact with the sculptures often leaving their coffee cups or other artifacts on the table. 

Irene Parlby 1868 – 1965

“If politics mean…the effort to secure through legislative action better conditions of life for the people, greater opportunities for our children and other people’s children…then it most assuredly is a woman’s job as much as it is a man’s job.”

Irene Parlby standing next to McClung gesturing to the newspaper with the headline that Women are Persons. 

I think these quotes nicely sum-up the issues of the time and serves to illustrate how the world has evolved over the past 100 years, in part as a result of the diligent efforts of these five women.  Isn’t it ironic that today Alberta has a female Premier.  

Downtown Calgary is blessed with several memorial bronze sculptures but none are as accessible or as fun at the Famous Five.  The best time to judge the success of public art and public spaces is not immediately after they are completed, but 10 years later to see if they have continued to capture the public's imagination and truly created a sense of place. 

The Famous 5 Foundation is planning a fun event at the sculptures on October 18th to celebrate "Persons" Day. Everyone is welcome!  

Reader comments: 

  • JH writes: "your piece on the ladies is awesome, informative and to the 'point'"
  • BB writes: "A great salute to Alberta's progressive past. Here is hoping that this past will influence its future."
  • SM writes: "I like The Conversation" the two guys talking on Stephen Avenue. It's timeless.
  • FB writes: "Surprisingly this barely TOUCHES the surface when it comes to public art in Calgary.
  • MW writes: "I love this sculpture and always visit it when I go to Calgary and Ottawa. I sit on the chair and thank these ladies. Hope you like reading ti as much as I did." 
  • RP writes: "I did enjoy this...read every word. The sculptures are great. It is like those warrior statues of the heroes of Hungry...they each have personality."  

If you like this blog you might like:

The Rise of Public Art / Decline of Public Galleries  

Olympic Plaza Needs A Mega Makeover

Putting the public back into public art




Free Trip To New York City (well almost)

By Richard White, September 14, 2013

This week I got a free trip to NYC (well, almost) via the September 8th edition of the New York Sunday Times.  I am not a regular reader, but one of the bonuses of dog and house sitting this week is the home delivery of the NYT Sunday edition.   There was an extra dividend this week as it was the Arts & Leisure’s “The New Season” edition with three full sections featuring all the arts activities happening this fall in the Big Apple.  For me, it was a reminder of the incredible depth of NYC’s cultural scene.

It was also a trip down memory lane and my three trips so far to NYC. Once in the ‘80s as an emerging visual artist (to study the graffiti and street art), once in the ‘90s as a contemporary art gallery curator (to study the gallery/museum scene) and once in the ‘00s as a downtown manager (to research urban vitality initiatives). Seems like I am due for another visit soon.


Swann Galleries' full page ad immediately captured my eye.   I am a sucker for lush passionate colours. Sorry the pics don't do justice to the actual ads. 

Bigger is better!

Perusing the pages of NYT’s “The New Season” was like flaneuring the streets of the city - new surprises with every turn of the page.  In the “Art, Pop Music, TV & Video Game” section, my memory cells were excited by the Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926 to 1938 exhibition at MoMA.  My mind recalled the images I had seen in numerous exhibition visits. Turn the page and there was Braque and Burtynsky causing more memory cells to fire. 

My imagination was captured on the next page with the word “The Power of Poison,” an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.  This was followed by image of a Leger from an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a reminder me of another trip. 

The Swann Auction Galleries’ full-page colour ad for its fall auction scheduled featured as wonderful Alfred Maurer “Fauve Nude” image suitable for framing.  Flaneuring a few more pages, I came upon a wonderful full-page colourful Chagall image, for The Jewish Museum’s “Love, War, and Exile” exhibition. 

Who needs a gallery gift shop when you have the full-page colour ads in the NYT? The section was full of fun factoids too – who knew that Grand Rapids, Michigan was hosting ARTPRIZE this fall with $560,000 in total prize money? 

The Movie section featured “20 to Watch” which, as you would expect highlights 20 young filmmakers from around the world.  As I don’t even go to 20 movies a year, this could easily be a DIY Film Festival for someone like me.  There is at least a week’s worth of reading in this section alone.


This is the image from the full page ad for the Chagall exhibition at the Jewish Museum. With a bit of flattening this would make a great poster, the colours were as rich as those of his artwork. 



The “Theatre, Dance, Classical” section quickly sparked memories of an off off Broadway production of Samuel Beckett’s “No Exit” that will forever be etched in my memory as one of my top ten lifetime cultural experiences.  It is not surprising that my attention was quickly captured by the double bill - “No Man’s Land” (Harold Pinter) and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot” - that you could see on the same day at the same theatre both produced in the historic Cort Theatre by Sean Mathias.

The existentialist in me was also intrigued by how Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” would be interpreted as a modern dance piece.  The old memory cells were working overtime now remembering my front row seat at Lincoln Centre watching Baryshnikov leaping in his prime (I have never gone to a ballet performance again, as that was truly the quintessential ballet experience for my lifetime). 


Image for The Metamorphosis ballet by the Royal Ballet reminded my of one of my yoga classes.  Seriously this capture my imagination immediately as I flaneured the paper. 

The city never sleeps…

I remember reading somewhere that there are 60,000 professional dancers living and working in Manhattan; for most cities this number would be their entire downtown working population.  No wonder NYC is “the city that never sleeps.” I expect 250,000 or more people who work every night in the entertainment industry have a work day which ends at 10 or 11 pm, meaning happy hour is at midnight, dinner is at 1 am and heading home happens in the early morning hours just as the bankers and brokers are heading into work.   Another factoid tells me there is a  “New Trumpet Music” festival. Who knew?

For me reading the NYT’s Sunday edition is like a free (well almost, it cost about $5/wk for the Sunday Times subscription) trip to NYC.


I have never been to the Armory Show.  Maybe I will have to plan my next trip to NYC around this exhibition.  But I know any time is a good time to visit NYC.  

Is Calgary's downtown too dense? with comments

I recently wrote an article for Condo Living magazine (see below) about the proposed 58-floor TELUS Sky building in the middle of downtown Calgary.  As I wrote the column, after studying the 3-D computer renderings, I began to wonder just how much of the building would people really get to see.  The rendering views make it look spectacular, but nobody really gets to see the building from the aerial perspective that is used i.e. above all the neighboring buildings yet close enough to see some details.  This is something many developers and architects do to get above beyond the clutter of the other buildings and in the process, create unrealistic expectations that simply can’t be realized.

The pedestrian perspective of the buildings in downtown Calgary is often compromised because other buildings “get in the way.”  For example, The Bow’s perspective, though great today from the southwest, will change dramatically (and not for the better) when the York Hotel site is developed.  Bankers Hall and Eighth Avenue Place are much better viewed from their south sides because of the lack of buildings due to the railway tracks and 10th Avenue being mostly empty parking lots so there are not buildings to block view angles which means you can see the buildings almost from top to bottom.  Although the Bow is currently our tallest building, you can barely see it from the west side.

Modern skyscrapers need space to breathe. They look best when viewed from afar or at least with some separation from each other allowing pedestrians to view them in their entirety from base to rooftop. And, the announcement of Brookfield Place (which will be the tallest building when it is completed) just a block away will restrict the view of TELUS Sky Suncor Center and the Bow from the southwest. 

TELUS Sky aerial rendering showing the wider office element at the bottom and the narrower condos at the top. with Suncor Centre behind and Bow on the right.  

It is hard to tell at this time if the clustering of the Bow, Brookfield Place, Suncor Centre and TELUS Sky will be synergistic or antagonistic.  At best, you will see the top 20 floors of TELUS Sky as it pokes its head out from the plethora of 30 and 40-floor buildings.  Only the Suncor Centre has anything bordering on a decorative rooftop i.e. the others are flat-topped with very little visual interest.  One of the best characteristics of the early skyscrapers was their ornate rooftops which makes them so alluring even 100 years later. 

Brookfield Place will be the tallest building in downtown when completed. It will continue the city's flat topped boxy office architectural style that is often criticized. 

Suncor Centre from Olympic Plaza. This view will be partly lost with the addition of TELUS Sky, just like the Bow cancelled out the view of Suncor Centre as you enter the downtown from the east.  

It is hard to tell at this time if the clustering of the Bow, Brookfield Place, Suncor Centre and TELUS Sky will be synergistic or antagonistic.  At best, you will see the top 20 floors of TELUS Sky as it pokes its head out from the plethora of 30 and 40-floor buildings.  Only the Suncor Centre has anything bordering on a decorative rooftop i.e. the others are flat-topped with very little visual interest.  One of the best characteristics of the early skyscrapers was their ornate rooftops which makes them so alluring even 100 years later. 

New Manulife building looks like a giant glass vessel. Note that all of the buildings around it are just simple boxes to accentuate the look of the proposed tower.  This building could be a great addition to downtown's urban landscape but we won't know until it is built and we can see it in context with other buildings.  Urban architecture does not exist in isolation, it has to be synergistic with what surrounds it.  

In Calgary, some of the more interesting architectural buildings are the mid-rise office buildings, like Centrum Place, Jamieson Place and Palliser South.  And, if you are looking for interesting decorative rooftops, new condos like Alura, Arriva, Five West, Montana, Nuera, Sasso and Vetro are leading the way.  The condos also benefit from the fact they are on the edge of the city center and therefore surrounded with low-rise buildings so you can see them in their entirety, something impossible to do in our downtown core.

Unfortunately, in downtown Calgary you can’t see the architecture for the buildings! 

Reader Comments:

JT writes: Good job.  The challenges run deep- office tenants can pay more than other users in our core, and the land use policies are structured to allow mega-buildings.  Office workers are high income earners (typically) and choose more home than less.  The select these homes distant from their place of work because that is where they can be constructed. 

We are victims of our own success.  Giant offices clustered together create a wickedly vibrant downtown from 6:30 to 6.  That same vibrancy is transferred to roads and busses and trains at the shoulder times and further dispersed outwards after 6:30 pm.

That is the Calgary pattern which only gets more entrenched with the continued popularity and economic viability of office space downtown.

HH writes: Love it!   But the next question is, what is their combined impact on the city? How do they visually combine to make a statement about the city? We have lots of impressive buildings but the sight lines for the general public are not good.  I agree we have great pieces of design but are they having the impact on the visitor or even for local residents that they should? Placement is everything!

 JR writes: I think you are heading down what i consider a discredited idea about the sculptured tower. The bottom 4 or 5 stories are where you make a city, the pedestrian and citizens city. The long view of a tower is what ever ego centric drives the owner and consultants derive from, perhaps important and if very lucky iconic. I suggest another read of Jane Jacobs, and another tour of old Paris - the Eiffel Tower is a defining landmark quite aside from the city. The city is a pedestrian delight. 

AS blogged: True, but there is a benefit to having large office towers in close proximity in CBD for business purposes.  

RT blogged: Don't really agree with the point, but do like the photos in this blog post. 

CO blogged: No. I'd rather have the view problems you are pointing out versus no growth in our core. 

GM blogged: I think the shorter structures surrounding the peaks are far more interesting and human friendly.   2nd blog: I'd rather have the problem with obstructed views than a doughnut city. 

KJ blogged: Skyline important, but I care a lot more about how the buildings integrate with the street. 

TL blogged: Understand your point, but no, Calgary's core is not dense enough to support great public spaces & institutions.  

JW blogged: Large office buildings close to downtown LRT is critical to generating more transit use which is more pedestrian friendly. 

This is the street view rendering provided by TELUS and BIG architecture.  Everything about it is artificial, there is no attempt to make it reflect the existing urban design of 7th Avenue - the LRT station, train are all wrong.    

Early 20th century skyscraper were very decorative at street level and also the upper floors.  The design drew the eye to the sky to see the "crown" of the building.  This was lost in the minimalism of the late 20th century office towers.  It is only recently that it has returned with projects like Eight Avenue Place and Jamieson Place which have more interesting roof top designs. 

Condo Living Magazine: TELUS Sky

“Create a lady to stand among the cowboys.” That was the challenge TELUS President and CEO, Darren Entwistle gave Danish “young gun” architect, Bjarke Ingels.  This directive was aimed at addressing one of the biggest criticisms of Calgary’s office buildings i.e. they are too boxy with their squat rectangular massing and flat roofs. For the most part Calgary’s office building designs are safe and straight-laced, very corporate and conservative - some would say masculine, maybe even cowboyish.  To be fair, recent additions The Bow and Eight Avenue Place (EAP) have ventured away from the box and in many ways EAP has many of the feminine qualities that Ingels has incorporated into TELUS Sky.

While TELUS is a large, established corporation, its logo (green and purple) and branding (those cute animal commercials) reflects a more pretty, playful and cutesy image than your typical large corporation. Some might even say more feminine.  It is therefore not surprising Entwistle’s vision was to create a feminine (lady) tower that would stand amongst the masculine cowboy towers, especially the downtown’s two other 50+ floor towers, The Bow and Suncor Energy Centre, which are its immediate neighbours.  It will be an interesting threesome!

TELUS Sky is also unique in that it will be both an office and residential tower.  While it won’t be taller than The Bow, it will be a more slender, elegant shape because the floor plate for a typical residential building is half that of a typical office building. TELUS Sky building will taper after the 26th office floor into a slender residential tower to the 58th floor.  The building’s façade will also evolve from the smooth surface of the office portion to an articulated, textured surface for the residential part as a result of its jutting balconies.

The net result is a wine bottle (or elongated grain elevator) shape.  To use the lady analogy, the transition area from the wide office to the slender torso would be her hips.  TELUS Sky is one robust lady who will certainly hold her own with the surrounding cowboys.  

Habitat "67 in Montreal 

At street level, Ingels’ design has a glass canopy, or what he calls a “skirt.”  It twists at the separate office and residential entrances to create a “billowing skirt” effect.  The analogy with the iconic urban photo of Marilyn Munro is obvious.

The design of TELUS Sky reminds me of Moshe Safdie’s experimental housing project, Habitat 67, created for Expo 67, which was one of Canada’s most recognized and creative new urbanist buildings.  The thesis behind Habitat 67 was to integrate the benefits of suburban homes, namely gardens, fresh air and privacy, with the benefits of urbanism i.e. density, economy of scale and walkability.  TELUS Sky will have both a vertical and rooftop garden, and the positioning of the balconies and residential units will maximize the indoor and outdoor spaces for all residents.  In many ways the goal, is to create a new 21st century design that shatters the idea that urban high-density living is cold, impersonal and ugly.

Ingels is all about symbiosis (a biological term that refers to two dissimilar organisms living together often for mutual benefit), which in this case refers to the office workers and the residents. The building will be animated by day with the workers and by night with the residents. It adds a whole new dimension to the “live, work, play” equation as you could live work and play in the same building.  The “play” element is further enriched by the public gallery that will be created as part of the enhanced public realm at street and +15 levels.  I can see a sequel to the film “Way Downtown” where the bet is who can last the longest without leaving the building

TELUS Sky is scheduled to open in 2017, fifty years after Habitat 67. A lot has changed in the past 50 years with respect to urban placemaking. And in many ways, Calgary is at the forefront.   Especially over the past 10 years, Calgary has become a very interesting design city - a place that welcomes and fosters innovative new urban design. TELUS Sky will further solidify that reputation. 

Link to Condoliving Magazine Calgary

Rendering of TELUS Sky looking up from the sidewalk. If this an accurate rendering it will be a very sensual uplifting visual experience. Love the way it interacts with the blue sky and clouds. From this perspective it lives up to its Sky name. 

Olympic Plaza needs mega makeover?

Reader Comments re: Olympic Plaza needs a mega makeover?

BB writes:  "You have touched a soft spot for me with Olympic Plaza.  Although I think Parks has done a stellar job at dressing up what is there (putting lipstick on a pig ? – oops was that my outside voice)  I agree it’s time for a makeover – the Olympics ended 25 years ago and the site needs to be repurposed – I was so excited about the potential for  German Christmas market but sad it did not get legs.  The Olympic Plaza is very much under utilized and filled with potential as a gathering place.  I have and continue to travel extensively and always comment on how every major city I visit the first thing you do is head for the centre city where all the history and action/interest is.  Every day | see and often engage with visitors in our DT who seem to be looking for something.  Mayor Bronconnier started things going by putting police an bylaw into the core to clean it up as well as Parks and Roads resources.  Next we need to make it an exciting place to be especially evenings and weekends."

Derek Besant on his  Olympic Plaza SONGLINES project: 

The concept was to design several gestures that would somehow be in proximity to one another around and in visual distance to Olympic Plaza.  Each site required negotiations with the building owners, and requirements to attach mount systems to the exteriors of their faces.  

I titled them: SONGLINES, based upon research into how Indigenous myth and story-telling was preserved, as part of my job in the early to mid 1970's as Exhibition Designer for the (then new) Glenbow Museum construction downtown.

At the time, I was investigating finer optic technology, and the challenge was to create drawn gestures that were NOT interpreted as advertising or logos, but would simply be drawn line forms.  The subjective aspect was that the linear forms would "talk" top one another by shifting colour ranges, as a rhythmic dialogue amongst them.  There are five in operation on various sites:

  • Rocky Mountain Plaza, 
  • Teatro Restaurant, 
  • The Glenbow Museum, 
  • Epcore Centre for Performing Arts, 
  • City Hall

All were installed successfully, and a sixth was planned out for the West corner of the Performing Arts building near street level; but never went ahead.  Each drawing was finally selected from pages and pages fill of gesture drawings as exercises… 

The project came about quickly, and I was approached by a committee from Epcore Centre to come up with a plan for the art installation.  I had only a three weeks to research and prepare the concept and deliver a critical path plan.

Originally, I wanted to do something like I had seen in Shanghai China, with laser light projections atop several buildings into the sky; but with the density surrounding downtown, and all that glass… the reflection factor was too difficult to control, so I went the finer optic route.  

This proved cost effective and climate-controlled, and as long as the various building owners would change the bulbs whenever they burned out, the dialogue between SONGLINES would indeed 'speak' to one another as architectural  articulations of line, motion and gesture.

Derek Besant: More Thoughts On Olympic Plaza and what it could/should be. 

I have thought for a long time that Olympic Plaza needs the connective big bang 'WOW' factor to bring it up to being a focal destination and not the open space between Mall and City Hall.  My SONGLINES was a flicker to try to awaken some response mechanisms between the facades within a limited budget and less time.   It did allow me to dream on what 'could' happen there though, especially after visits on my projects to Shanghai, China.  

I understand our climate gives the space some limits… or are they opportunities?  Hmmm?  

When I am downtown by the Congress Bridge in Austin Texas, or on Trafalgar Square in London, or in the long cool shadows of bank buildings strung along Bay Street in Toronto, or crossing the Alexander III Bridge in Paris, or the central plaza with four museums opposite one another in the Medieval city of Györ, in Hungary beside the Danube; I know where I am, and the perception of place resonates within me and I long for those identifications of what those urban centres hold for me to explore and reveal, or stay hidden beneath them. 

City Hall here is a landmark building.  But what does it talk to out there, really?  Itself… It needs an opposite, a mirror, a debate, a love affair, a shot in the arm, and an arrival into another reality

Blog: Everyday Tourist  

For some reason or reasons Olympic Plaza has never really captured the public’s imagination as an attractive place to meet and hang out like other civic plazas – Portland’s Pioneer Square or Union Square in San Francisco to name just two.  It should be an important tourist attraction for Calgary, a “top of mind” place for Calgarians to proudly show visiting family and friends. 

Quoting Wikipedia, “Today, this (Union Square) one-block plaza and surrounding area is one of the largest collections of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops, art galleries and beauty salons in the United States, making Union Square a major tourist destination, a vital, cosmopolitan gathering place in downtown San Francisco, and one of the world's premier shopping districts. Grand hotels and small inns, as well as repertory, off-Broadway and single-act theaters also contribute to the area's dynamic, 24-hour character.” That is what our Olympic Plaza should be. 

Outdoor patio on Union Square in San Francisco is warm and inviting. 

Plaza in Frankfurt's city centre full of people even though there is no programming.  It truly it their "urban living room." 

In contrast, Calgary’s Olympic Plaza is only animated when it is programmed, i.e. International Children’s Festival, summer noon hour concerts, etc. Most times you can shoot the proverbial cannon off and you wouldn’t hit anyone.  Even the outdoor skating rink is used by only a few lonely souls most days in the winter, despite it basking in brilliant sunshine at noon hour mid-winter.

For a public space to feel safe there needs to be lots of people of all ages and backgrounds moving through the space at all times of the day/evening doing a diversity of activities. Olympic Plaza is surrounded by a diversity of building types – a major theatre complex, large museum, convention center, high-end restaurant, City Hall/Municipal building, Central Library, church, apartments and office buildings – which you’d think would make it a busy place even when there is no formal programming.  In theory it should work. In reality it sits empty most the time.  

With the plaza now 25 years old, I understand some elements are at the end of their life span making it timely to look at how a mega makeover could make it Calgary’s urban living room.

It is interesting to note that plazas in many European cities, are often just large, flat, hard surfaces that allow for multiple uses.  They are also surrounded by mixed-use buildings that exit right onto the plaza, not separated by a street. Unfortunately for Olympic Plaza, Teatro really turns it back on the plaza (other than its small summer only patio), there is no interaction with 7th Avenue or Mcleod Trail and EPCOR Performing Arts Centre is dark during the day. Only the Jack Singer Concert Hall has a grand entrance off the plaza. 

The first thing I would do is bring in the heavy equipment!  Flatten the site so people can easily walk diagonally through the plaza - pedestrians love short cuts. Letting them easily walking diagonally from 8th Avenue to 7th Avenue would provide a link from Stephen Avenue Walk to the LRT station and to East Village and vice versa.  Plazas need to link key urban elements that surround it.

The cost to program a flat open space without a wading pool or skating rink would be less and allow for easier use as you wouldn’t have to drain the water or cover up the ice. It would be a wonderful space for a summer farmers’ market (think Portland), or a weekend flea/artisan market (think Frankfurt) or a Christmas market (think Frankfurt again). 

Strasborg town square is a wide open flat hard surfaced space that can be used for a variety of activities.  This is an early morning photo, later in the day it is busy with people cutting through or on market day it is full of vendors. 

Frankfurt's Saturday flea market happens year round on a long linear plaza along the river.  It attracts thousands of people downtown. 

At the same time I would I cut down all of the trees along 7th Avenue (I know this sounds harsh but I will explain soon) and create a long narrow space where food trucks could park to create a “pod” like they do in Portland - an outdoor food court of sorts.  Ideally, different trucks would cycle through the plaza each week to keep it fresh and spontaneous. This could also be a stage area for concerts that could then play to the entire width of the plaza. 

The large dense trees are a safety hazard.  CPTED 101  (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through the landscape design) states that public spaces should be “see through” i.e. people walking by should be able to see through to the other side of the space. No places for people to hide or sleep; no dark spaces. I will probably be “hung” for saying this, but if you look at the great urban plazas, they have very little vegetation. Their “life” comes from the people.

The biggest challenge is how to animate the space daytime and evening year round without a huge programming budget.  We could convert the space into the Olympic Plaza Art Park with numerous sculptures - some permanent and some temporary.  The first one is already there – the popular “Famous Five” sculpture.  Image if “The Root of All Evil” currently hidden away in Ramsay was in the middle of Olympic Plaza.  Or what about moving the Family of Man to Olympic Plaza?  The plaza is already home to the “Famous Five” sculpture.  

Root of all Evil sculpture is temporary located in Ramsay at Ramsay Exchange.  Imagine how much more powerful the statement would be if it was in Olympic Plaza right across from the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer.   This should be a major tourist attraction.  We need to create more urban synergies. 

The Family of Man sculpture will have to be moved as the old Board of Education block gets redeveloped.  It would make a great addition to Olympic Plaza as a gateway at the northwest corner. 

I’d love to see some pieces with special LED lighting to make the space more attractive in the winter.  A companion piece to Julian Opie’s “Promenade” in East Village would be a perfect piece for one of the corners of the plaza.  The “Crown Fountain” piece that Jaume Plensa did for Chicago’s Millennium Park would be perfect for Olympic Plaza, as would Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate.”  We shouldn’t copy Chicago, but we need to find public art that is interactive and engages the public like they do. 

There was an attempt awhile back to add whimsical lighting elements attached to the sides of the buildings around Olympic Plaza.  I believe there were light sculptures on the side of the Glenbow, Municipal Building and Rocky Mountain Plaza. The project was dropped; I’m not sure why. Imagine if there were light sculptures on all of the 20 different buildings that you can see from Olympic Plaza and they turned off and on at different times, dancing in the winter sky - the urban equivalent of the “northern lights.” 

Perhaps too there could be a laser show every night in the winter with Olympic Plaza being the focal point.  Maybe we could use modern technology to project highlights of the 1988 Olympics onto the buildings in the winter night as a way to celebrate our history and that we are a winter city.  It would also be a way to celebrate that Calgary has a wonderful public art collection, unfortunately it is too scattered and hidden to achieve the urban synergies need to make it a tourist attraction. 

Now is not too soon to plan for Olympic Plaza’s 30th anniversary in 2018. 

Plensa's Crown Fountain sculpture even at dusk attracts hundreds of people to interact with it. 

Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" aka The Bean also attracts thousands of people to come downtown every day and is a major tourist attraction. 

Opie's "Promenade" seems to be out of place sitting on a berm above the street and invisible from the new River Walk promenade.  It should be where the pedestrians can stand beside it,  interact with it and be easily photographed. 

If you like this blog you might like: Poppy Plaza Review  

Calgary's Olympic Plaza in the summer showing wading pool, Olympic medal stage area with Municipal building (large blue building) and old City Hall (red clock tower) in the background.  Look idyllic a nice oasis in the middle of the city, which is how public spaces were designed in the 70s and 80s.  Unfortunately they have not aged well and they don't function as well as they could for a diversity of activities. 

Songlines was a pilot project by the Olympic Plaza Cultural District and the Downtown Association to create a visual identity for blocks around the plaza as Calgary's cultural / arts district.  This image is from Calgary artist Derek Besant's website showing his piece on the side of the Teatro restaurant and you can also see another piece on the side of the Glenbow museum on the left side.  

This is Red Square in Moscow which is just a large flat open space with buildings not roads on the edges.  It has good pedestrian traffic even when there is no programming.  There are no trees, no decorative design elements, just space.  

This is the plaza outside of Centre Pompidou in Paris. Again just a flat open space.There are some trees on the edge but they are deciduous which allow people to see into and out of the plaza.  One the best plaza activities is people watching - people attract people. 

What should be Calgary's iconic image to the world?

In May Tourism Calgary hosted their annual "White Hat Awards" where they recognized individuals who have made a difference in Calgary's hospitality industry.  Just a few weeks before the ceremony I got a call that I had been nominated for the Media Recognition Award. I was very surprised as my writing is not pure tourism propaganda, rather, I hope, it is a rigorous evaluation of our city's urban sense of place within an international context.  

Over the years I have compared Calgary to places like Paris, Lyon, Frankfurt, Dubai, Perth and Portland sharing with readers the lessons to be learned from those cities with respect to how to enrich urban living in our city.  It is only recently that I have perhaps focused more on Calgary from a tourist perspective.  

However, there is a strong link between tourism and urbanism, if you can make a city centre an interesting place to live then I think you will make it a great place to visit.  Tourist are often attracted to cities that are vibrant places to live - Paris, New York, Chicago, Montreal or San Francisco quickly come to mind.  

One of the other things that tourist cities have in common is that they have iconic images that are instantly recognizable internationally - the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, The Clouded Gate (The Bean)  or The Golden Gate Bridge.    

If Calgary wants to attract more tourists it must develop several iconic images that become it postcard to the world and say "Come And Visit."  In fact the last time I looked it was ihard to find good postcards of Calgary, most of the time if you go to souvenir shop there are a bunch of out-dated postcards of Calgary's skyline hidden amongst the Banff and Rocky Mountain postcards - even in Calgary souvenir shops.  

Fortunately, I suspect postcards are going the way of the dodo bird. With digital cameras and smart phones, who needs postcards in the 21st century?   

While we may not need postcards anymore we still must brand our city with several iconic images that "shout out" Calgary is a fun place to visit.  Currently we probably one iconic image - The Calgary Stampede and it only works for 10 days of the year.

 However, there are several good candidates and new ones being created every year.  I thought I'd share a few with you and then perhaps you can share your ideas and together we can create Calgary's top 10 iconic images. 

Criteria for being an iconic image are:

  1. Must be photo friendlly
  2. Must be memorable
  3. Must have mass appeal
  4. Must be unique to Calgary 
  5. Must be timeless

My picks are:


The Peace Bridge: This is photo of the underside of the Peace Bridge taken by Neil Zeller and was used by Tourism Calgary from my Media Recognition Award.  The Peace Bridge has become one of the most photographed structures in the City.  Like a lot of urban icons it was hated by many but over time has become part of a city's brand e.g. EiffelTower. 


The Trees on Stephen Avenue - the trees are a big bold statement and they are on our signature street Stephen Avenue.  Like all good icons they too were controversial and locals have a love hate relationship with them.  Before The Bow, Wonderland and the Peace Bridge, Calgary Economic Development and Tourism Calgary used them extensively as a statement of Calgary modernism. They are a great link between public art and architecture.  

The Calgary Tower is definitely one of our past icons.  It is not longer the tallest structure in the city, however, it does pop up in the most unexpected places as it pops in and out of view.  It could be our mid-century modern icon with its Jetson like design. 

The Conversation certainly must be consider as a candidate.  It creates the human touch that is so often missing from icons.  I love this image as it also recognizes that we are a winter city which too often we try to push under the rug.  The image also says business which is so much a part of our corporate culture.  Good icons work on many levels.  

There are three potential icons in this photo Suncor Centre, The Bow and Wonderland.  There is an interesting juxtaposition of art, architecture, corporate and culture and the individual.  Wonderland talks about our youth and innocence as a city that aspires to greatness.  

Not sure this is the right image, but the Family of Man sculpture has the potential to be an iconic image.  It conveys a modern caring city which I think is exactly what were are and is the image we'd like to convey to the world.  it will be interesting to see what happen to this piece of art and if it gets moved.  It deserves a signature site it would be a great gateway into the downtown from the northeast where most airport arriving visitors enter the downtown. 

The Saddledome should definitely be on the list as it unique shape and location create a postcard view of both our rivers valley and the skyline.  It will be interesting to see what happens to when a new arena is built.   


The one icon that comes to mind is the Bow River - a timeless icon. It is a beautiful colour and clear water (other than at run-off), is open all winter (unusual for a winter city) and is followed for almost its entire length in the city by walking paths and bike trails. I can think of no other city in Canada that has the same access to their major river.  Perhaps the postcard shot of the Bow is looking south at the downtown at the Centre Street bridge.  Certainly the Peace Bridge and Bow Tower are the new icons.  GG

My vote goes to The Conversation and Wonderland.  The office towers aren't really anything special, there are too many like it in other cities. MW 

Interesting article. For me as a relatively new arrival in the city I find the city has very few iconic structures. I think the Peace Bridge and the Saddledome are good examples but other than that..... Truth is that the city gets its beauty (if you can call it that ) because of its' proximity to the mountains. Most pictures of Calgary show the mountains in the background. If Calgary was located in the bald Prairie it would be no more interesting than Regina.

The Calgary tower is no longer remarkable, the Bow river valley is ordinary  ( eg compared to Edmonton) the Encana (Bow) tower is impressive but not very architecturally unique. There are no Churches or schools of much interest and the University has very utilitarian boring buildings with no efort at continuity. For example the University of Saskatchewan is iconic (also Queens) because of the theme that runs through the buildings and the association of beautiful stone buildings with an important academic function. Who would waste time taking a tour of the university of Calgary campus? JM

Each of these makes a connection at a certain level. I personally like the big white head, but for a city Image to the world i guess it has to be the calatrava bridge. CO (from Saskatoon, world traveller).

I don't know that any single image really works. Maybe we, as Calgarians, are too close to the city to choose one representative icon. Every one of these images says SOMETHING about Calgary, but doesn't say "Calgary" in a way that would make a visitor or newcomer feel familiar with the city's style, personality and "feel" upon arrival. If we just picked the most stunning image, it would be the Bow/Wonderland or Calatrava's bridge — or perhaps one of the new west C-train stations. But do these really represent what the city is? Do they oversell Calgary in one sense, and undersell it in another? I'd like to ask a visitor who has spent a few weeks here to describe Calgary, then choose an image based on that. One that shows our "good side," of course! MD

Here's a nod to one of our earliest icons, Calgary City Hall, one of the exemplary buildings that earned Calgary the nickname,  The Sandstone City.  (George Webber (Calgary photographer).


George Webber's reminds us that Calgary is home to some iconic sandstone buildings from the early 20th century that should be considered as one of our postcards to the world.  

From Reddit got some interesting comments:

Ha, I actually think the nearly endless rows of manufactured homes is more Calgary than a view of the mountains. Me too, but you'll always hear something like "Only an hour away from the mountains!" in every promotion of Calgary tourism.

I thought this image actually did convey a lot of what Calgary is in some ways. The attractive parts of nature, of the vast wilderness that once characterized this land a century ago, the cowboy days of making a go of it in a virgin territory; all things said about Calgary as something people want to and claim to take pride in. In reality they are real, but obscured by distance or time, as you can see from the haze obstructing the view of the mountains.

In the foreground, the stark contrast of hundreds of thousand of identical vinyl cubes with the same black asphalt roofs are clear in focus, representing the sprawl that is the reality of life in Calgary here and now. The only thing I would have liked in the picture as well is something representing the beltline/downtown core area, which is where the pockets of culture in Calgary that actually do exist are.

The downtown skyline from Crescent Heights with mountains in the background and Bow River in the foreground is my iconic image of Calgary.  


Stephen Avenue at lunch hour when thousands of office workers migrate to the walk the street is a unique phenomena that could be an iconic image of Calgary. 

Good discussion. Another iconic image whose heyday has now sadly passed is the main ski jump tower at COP. It is still eye-catching, but was once quite breathtaking, standing out against the sky with the Olympic rings on the side. Talk about a symbol of Calgary's coming of age as a world city! Now, the ill-conceived dirt pile WinSport has built up beside it detracts from its visual impact, but it's still worthy of acknowledgement MD.

"Missing from the images is my suggestion - Calgary's first public library opened in 1912 in the grounds of what was then known as Central Park.  It was a Carnegie funded library now called Memorial Park branch. Many cities decommissioned their Carnegie libraries in fact some have been demolished and I'm proud of Calgary for continuing to operate ours as a library. I would also include the memorial to the fallen in both world wars and other wars in the picture as it too is located in Memorial Park on the same grounds as the library." Says GW

"Another unusual iconic image often overlooked is Western Canada High School with a memorial in the school grounds fronting on to 17 Ave.  I included the history of that memorial and the original private boys' school, the first in Calgary - Western Canada College - in the book I compiled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Western Canada College a decade ago in 2003.  The war memorial is unique in that it is the only city school that has one. It was erected in 1927 to honour the old boys and masters of Western Canada College who died defending their country. Although the buildings that formed WCC were torn down years ago, the school's namesake, Western Canada High School continues to connect the past to the present." Say GD 

If you like this blog you might like: Beautiful Bowness  or Poppy Plaza or

Calgary History Capital of Canada

Forensic LRT Station Walks in Calgary

By David Peyto, guest blogger

Many cities have books published by local authors that tell the city's history via walking tours.  These books have inspired me to take a look at my city, Calgary, in new and different ways.   

Andrew Duncan – author of Favourite London Walks – writes, “walking really is the only way to get to know a city. It’s cheap, easy, beneficial to both walker and the environment and above all, simple”.

Laura Foster – author of Portland Hill Walks and Portland City Walks writes, “I think of myself and people who like my books as forensic pedestrians: really looking at and trying to figure out what it was that shaped the landscape and our neighbourhoods, why it happened and when.”

Prairie Pathfinders – publishers of Winnipeg Walks write, “learning about and appreciating a place, is best done on foot. If you really want to see Winnipeg – its wonderful urban forest, its stately old residential areas, its impressive architecture, its beautiful park trails – you have to get out and walk around it – witness it firsthand."

As a result I have written and just published the first two of four books titled "Calgary LRT Walks." The first two deal with things to see and experience in and around the Northwest Stations and South Stations, with the second two focusing on the Northeast Stations, Downtown and West Stations.

The routes in the books wander through older communities past many historic buildings and urban artifacts, as well as pathways beside Calgary’s rivers and creeks (although some of these paths and pedestrian bridges will need to be rebuilt after suffering damage during the flood). Many of Calgary’s wonderful parks are included in the walks and there are suggestions for places to take in great views from various points along the  escarpments of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. 

These books offer you the opportunity get to know more about Calgary. As a “forensic pedestrian" there is so much you can discover in Calgary and walking really is the best way to appreciate all the city has to offer.

David Peyto

Evereyday Tourist Note: Below are some of the fun things that you will find as your flaneur you way to places in Calgary most of us don't even know exist.  These images are just the tip of the urban iceberg that Peyto has uncovered for everyone to enjoy. 

You can get your copy of the LRT walks books by contacting Peyto directly at:  




# 59, 3302 – 50th St NW,

Calgary, T3A 2C6



The Calgary LRT Walks books are available at Owls Nest, Shelf Life, Pages and the Glenbow Museum Shop.  Peyto's The Warden and trivia books (more information on Peyto's books and bio is at the end of this blog)  are available at:  Second Storey Books (Canmore) and Viewpoint, Whyte Museum and Mooseprints (Banff).




Although Calgary is known for its Western heritage, lions have played and continue to play a role as public art in Calgary. This lion’s head is on the former Holy Angels School on Cliff Street.


There are several buffalo sculptures in Calgary. Sunning Buffalo by Eric Peterson is along the path overlooking Twelve Mile Coulee in Tuscany.

The Ranchmen’s Club on 13th Avenue SW has several sculptures of monkeys hanging by their tails.

Old railway ties remain from when a rail line extended west along the north side of Inglewood to the site that is now Fort Calgary Historic Park.

This Macleod Trail stamp in Ramsay dates from the time when Macleod Trail followed the road that became Spiller Road.

The street signs in Cliff Bungalow show the former street names. From 18th Avenue south to 25th Avenue the names of Canada’s Governor Generals after Confederation were used. However the name of the second Governor General John Young, 1st Marquess of Lisgar was not used. Why?


Wandering along the trails in Shagnessey Heights Park on the south side of Toronto Crescent you pass this very basic bench.


This small wooden cross marks a gravesite in St. Mary’s Cemetery.


Pieces of a fence along the north side of 9th Avenue in Sunnyside date back to the late 1940s-early 1950s when mudslides on the escarpment slope forced the residents to move.


Old sidewalks in Baker Park are all that remains from when Baker Sanatorium was located on this site.

Calgary LRT Walks – The Northwest Stations

Paperback, 198 pages, 6 x 9 in.

14 historic photos, 68 b/w photos, 8 colour photos

ISBN 978-0-9919150-0-2 $18.00

The thirty-six walks in the book range in length from 2.1 km to 10.8 km. Walks for the Tuscany Station (scheduled to open in 2014) are included in the book.


  1. Sunnyside Station – 6 walks
  2.  SAIT/ACAD/Jubilee – 3 walks
  3.  Lions Park – 3 walks
  4.  Banff Trail – 2 walks
  5. University – 2 walks
  6.  Brentwood – 3 walks
  7. Dalhousie – 8 walks
  8. Crowfoot – 5 walks
  9. Tuscany – 4 walks

Calgary LRT Walks – The South Stations

Paperback, 224 pages, 6 x 9 in.

16 historic photos, 65 b/w photos, 8 colour photos

ISBN 978-9919150-1-9  $19.00

The thirty-nine walks in the book range in length from 2.1 km to 12.3 km.


  1. Victoria Park/Stampede – 4 walks
  2. Erlton/Stampede – 3 walks
  3. 39th Avenue – 2 walks
  4. Chinook – 4 walks
  5. Heritage – 3 walks
  6. Southland – 1 walk
  7.  Anderson – 3 walks
  8. Canyon Meadows – 5 walks
  9. Fish Creek-Lacombe – 3 walks
  10.  Shawnessy – 1 walk
  11.  Somerset-Bridlewood – 9 walks

What information is in the LRT Walks books?

Each walk in the chapter includes:

Walk Overview:  description of the area the walk is located. Routes may be a loop, out-and-back, linear or a combination of these options.

Length: in km

Route Description & Accessibility: information on how accessible the route is for users of wheelchairs or baby strollers. The routes vary from flat or gently rolling, small hills or steep ascents or descents. On some routes an alternate route with better accessibility is included in the text.

Food and Drink: Information on parks, green spaces and viewpoints along the route. Information on coffee shops, grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants along the route is also included.

Washrooms: Location of washrooms in parks and public buildings.

Map References: Map page numbers for four different map books – Clearview, MapArt, Rand McNally & Sherlock.

Route Category:

     Walk – route starts and ends at the station. No bus ride is required.

     Bus/Walk – ride a bus to the start of the route and walk back to the station.

     Walk/Bus – walk from the station to the end of the route and ride a bus back to  

     the station.

      Bus/Walk/Bus – ride a bus to the start of the route and ride a bus back to the

      station from the end of the route.

Bus Directions: (when required)

Route Summary: Summarizes the directions for the route.

Who is David Peyto?

Peyto (pronounced Pea-toe) was born in Banff and raised in Calgary. His great uncle was Bill Peyto, for whom Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway is named.

Peyto taught elementary physical education at three Calgary schools – Connaught, Ogden and Col. J. Fred Scott. As a teacher he organized walking programs for the students. At Ogden School, one group of students visited Fish Creek Park for a three-day walk after school and walked from the east end of the park (Mallard Point) to the west end (Shannon Terrace). Another group did a five-day walk after school. They walked around the Glenmore Reservoir, followed the Elbow River to Fort Calgary and continued west along the Bow River to Bowness Park.

After retiring in 2000, he began a self-publishing business – Peyto Lake Books. To date he has published twelve books plus a history book for his church.

Banff Town Warden series – four books of his grandfather’s park warden journals from 1914 to 1941 (published in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2009). He was the warden whose patrol included Banff and the area close to town.

Bill Peyto Guide to Canadian Rockies Trivia – two books of trivia about the Canadian Rockies. (published in 2003). Multiple choice questions on a variety of topics – animals, birds, flowers, placenames, history, rivers etc.

Walk Calgary’s Escarpments and Bluffs – a 177 km route of 16 connected walks that follow the escarpments and bluffs of Calgary on the Bow & Elbow Rivers and Fish Creek & Nose Creek (published in 2005). This book will be revised and updated after the LRT Walks books are published.

Discover Calgary’s Parks and Green Spaces – three book series – North, Southeast and Southwest, published in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Calgary LRT Walks: The Northwest Stations (July 2013)

Calgary LRT Walks: The South Stations (July 2013)

Upcoming books planned:

Calgary LRT Walks: The Northeast Stations

Calgary LRT Walks: The Downtown & West Stations


Cover of Calgary LRT Walks: The South Stations

Cover of Calgary LRT Walks: The Northwest Stations

Architecture River Cruise In Chicago

Normally, we are all about “taking the path least travelled” yet when it comes to the very popular Chicago architectural river cruises, we were all over getting in line to join the masses to take the 75-minute cruise up and down the Chicago River to see and learn more about the city’s amazing history and architecture.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation cruise is one of the most engaging, enlightening and entertaining experiences we have enjoyed in a long time.  Our guide, a retired architect, was a fascinating storyteller who made architecture both interesting and understandable, no small feat given the need to use architectural lingo like curtain wall, footprint, setbacks, art deco, post-modern, bundled tube and skeleton frame.   

A view down the Chicago River which provides a dramatic perspective to view the skyline and visual history of Chicago, which is so linked to its buildings.  

Examples of the early 20th century skyscrapers with their ornamental roof and strong vertical lines.  The early skyscrapers were church-like in their vertical thrust into the sky i.e. heaven. 

A modern skyscaper that mirrors some of the verticalness of the early skyscraper but with new materials that are much more reflective and much less ornamentation.  The age of architectural minimalism started in the mid-20th century and is still popular today.